ERA Media Release - Mr Ridha ben Attia

The ERA Stewards opened an inquiry on Thursday 19 March, 2020 into the notification by the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit that the prohibited substance arsenic had been detected in three (3) urine samples taken from horses trained by Mr Ridha ben Attia. Those horses and relevant races are:
• HAMAAN AL JASRA (FR) at Al Ain Friday 14 February, 2020 in “Al Basrah Maiden 1400 metres”
• WAFI (FR) at Sharjah Saturday 22 February, 2020 in “Longines HydroConquest Handicap 1700 metres”
• JERNAZ (AE) at Sharjah Saturday 22 February, 2020 in “Sharjah Marathon Handicap 2700 metres”

Evidence was taken from Mr. Ridha ben Attia (Trainer), Dr. Kieran Finn (ERA Regulatory Veterinarian) and Dr. Michael Subhahar (Chief Analyst – Dubai Equine Forensic Unit). Previous evidence taken from Mr Hamad Al Marar (Assistant Trainer) was also considered during the inquiry.
The following matters were established;
1. On Tuesday 25 February, the ERA Stewards were advised of an irregularity to arsenic, in the post-race sample taken from HAMAAN AL JASRA (FR) at Al Ain 14 February.
2. On Wednesday 26 February, ERA Stewards and Veterinarian visited Mr ben Attia’s Al Marar stables and informed him, via Mr Al Marar, of the irregularity.
3. Mr Al Marar reported, and produced Medical Log Books to show, that horses in the stable are routinely given Caco-Iron-Copper via saline drip, in the days leading up to raceday. The last administration of Caco-Iron-Copper was given to HAMAAN AL JASRA (FR) two (2) clear days prior to raceday.
4. Dr Finn informed Mr Al Marar that Caco-Iron-Copper does contain arsenic and although there is no official recommended withdrawal period for the product, he would advise leaving five (5) clear days between administration and raceday.
5. During the stable visit Mr Al Marar declined his right to have the reserve portion of the urine sample for HAMAAN AL JASRA (FR) analysed and was advised that under Rules of Racing 95D(iv), the findings of the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit would be conclusive evidence that arsenic had been administered to HAMAAN AL JASRA (FR).
6. On Sunday 1 March, the ERA Stewards were advised of an irregularity to arsenic, in the pre-race sample taken from WAFI (FR) and the post-race sample taken from JERNAZ (AE) at Al Ain 14 February.
7. As the substance involved was the same as previously reported and advised to the stable, Stewards advised Mr Al Marar of the two(2) subsequent irregularities via a telephone call on Tuesday 3 March.
8. During the notification Mr Al Marar again declined his right to have the reserve portion of the urine samples analysed and again was advised that under Rules of Racing 95D(iv), the findings of the Dubai Equine Forensic Unit would be conclusive evidence that arsenic had been administered to both WAFI (FR) and JERNAZ (AE).
9. Mr ben Attia informed Stewards that Caco-Iron-Copper was a long-standing treatment given on his instructions, by his veterinarian, to all his horses in an attempt to stimulate appetite.
10. Dr Finn advised that arsenic is a trace mineral found in nature and always present in the body, however at very high levels can commence to be toxic to horses. Further, at extreme levels arsenic can be fatal.

Mr ben Attia pled guilty to three (3) charges under ERA Rule 95AAA1.(b), those being:
1) That prior to HAMAAN AL JASRA (FR) racing at Al Ain on Friday 14 February, 2020, as the Trainer he caused to be administered to that horse arsenic above the threshold, as evidenced by a post-race urine sample.
2) That prior to WAFI (FR) racing at Sharjah on Saturday 22 February, 2020, as the Trainer he caused to be administered to that horse arsenic above the threshold, as evidenced by a pre-race urine sample.
3) That prior to JERNAZ (AE) racing at Sharjah on Saturday 22 February, 2020, as the Trainer he caused to be administered to that gelding arsenic above the threshold, as evidenced by a post-race urine sample.

In determining the appropriate penalty in this case, the Stewards considered a number of factors including:
• The circumstances of the offence;
• Nature of the substance;
• General and specific deterrence;
• The integrity and image of racing in the UAE;
• Mr ben Attia’s forthright evidence and co-operation throughout the inquiry;
• Mr ben Attia’s guilty plea and clear record in relation to the prohibited substance rules over a long period in racing.

Mr ben Attia was subsequently fined the sum of AED 40,000.

Pursuant to ERA 86(ii), HAMAAN AL JASRA was disqualified as third placegetter in Race 3, “Al Basrah Maiden 1400 metres” at Al Ain racecourse on Friday 14 February, with the placings amended to:

Finish Place Horse Name Trainer Jockey
1st ROKBELLO DU CAYROU (FR) Eric Lemartinel Fabrice Veron
2nd WINKED (US) Abdallah Al Hammadi Jesus Rosales
3rd WILD SON (FR) Abdallah Al Hammadi Bernardo Pinheiro
4th FLIT AL MAURY (FR) Ali Rashid Al Rayhi Jim Crowley
5th AF SAIL (FR) Ernst Oertel Tadhg O’Shea

Additionally WAFI (FR) and JERNAZ (AE) were disqualified from their respective races at Sharjah on Saturday 22 February, 2020.

Relevant Rules:
ERA 86(ii) –
Where any declared runner has been the subject of an examination under Rules 8(vi) and or (vii) and has been found to have received any Prohibited Substance, the Horse shall be disqualified from that Race and from other Races as the ERA determines.

ERA Rule 95AAA1.(b) –
Any person shall be liable to Penalty if: they administer or cause to be administered any Prohibited Substance which is detected in any Sample taken pursuant to Rule 8(vii) from any Horse prior to or following any Race, or Test.

ERA Rules 95D(iv) –
In the event that a confirmatory analysis is not requested, the findings of the Accredited Racing Laboratory shall be conclusive evidence that a Prohibited Substance had been administered to the Horse from which the Sample was taken.

Stewards Panel:
• Mr Taylor Wilson (Chairman), Mr Sam Shinsky and Mr John Zucal.